The figures, which cover the 12 month period between January and December 2012, once again highlight the importance and popularity of the commercial radio sector in Ireland at a time when revenues throughout the sector are under considerable pressure.
Nationally the combined share of the independent radio sector now commands 67.9% of the total radio market between 7am and 7 pm each weekday while the RTÉ stations of RTÉ Radio 1, RTÉ 2FM and Lyric FM had a 32.1% share.
“Survey after survey we have to endure spin that suggests RTÉ commands the radio market in this country,” said John Purcell, Chairman of the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland “An examination of the JNLR data on a franchise area by franchise area basis reveals the picture that the RTÉ stations are comprehensively beaten in the listenership stakes everywhere around the country by Independent Radio while in the crucial Dublin market RTÉ stations are clinging on to only 40% of the market,” he says.
Despite this, RTÉ’s dominance in the ratings is hard to question with 19 of the top 20 programmes broadcast by the state broadcaster. The only non-RTÉ programme to make it into the Top 20 was the popular Ray D’Arcy show on Today FM.
“2FM’s performance remains static with its all adult figure remaining at 11%,” says Oilbhe Doyle of media agency OMD. “The real pressure point for this station continues to be Tubridy’s marked declines. In the last 2 years he has lost 56,000 listeners. This has been mitigated to some degree by the improvements in the other shows. Whilst Hector, Will Leahy and Dave Fanning have all recorded gains, the station’s momentum will continue to be driven by the performance of the mid morning slot. No doubt Montrose bosses are continually grasping with this issue,” she adds.
Doyle also points out that the drivetime slot continues to grow with 39,000 extra listeners over the last three years, a 6% increase. “Drivetime on Radio 1 has always been the leader of the pack here, but Will Leahy, The Last Word and Right Hook have all benefitted from gains at different periods. News, views, interviews and debate have never been more prevalent in this period of continued change and upheaval in our social, economic and political lives, says Doyle.
Elsewhere, she says that the late evening (7pm-9pm broadly) slot has seen significant declines, bucking the trend of most recent years. “Dave Fanning is the only show experiencing increases whilst Off the Ball must be very disappointed with a 28% fall in listenership for what in many ways is now a seminal show in the Irish radio landscape. Ironically, one wonders if the surfeit of live sport hosted in our time zone (Olympics, Special Olympics and the Euros) had a detrimental effect on the listenership of Ireland’s leading sports radio show.”
In the cut-throat Dublin market, RTÉ Radio dipped 4% according to Doyle although it still has the highest proportion of listeners, now at 31% All Adult market share. All the other nationals have also lost share in Dublin including 2Fm (2%), Lyric (2%), Today FM (1%) and Newstalk (1%).
“Of the local Dublin stations” Doyle adds, “FM104 continues to perform strongly. Whilst Spin is next in line, it is still 8% behind FM104. 98FM will be hoping that the shakeup in its schedule, with the addition of Ray Foley and the LA entertainment and gossip guru Ryan Seacrest, will begin to reverse their recent declines.”
(Note: An in-depth report on the JNLR figures will appear in the next issue of IMJ)